International Students

Dear International Students, 

You are awesome for taking the big step to pursue a degree at an institution abroad and away from your home countries. Did you know that the UC is recognized globally as a top university and that while you are abroad or away, people will recognize you as a top student of such a prestigious and rigorous university? This will unlock access to much new learning, research, internship, and volunteer opportunities. In turn, these new experiences will open up a world of endless possibilities for you. 

You should know that most study abroad or away programs are non-competitive, (though some might be limited capacity) meaning that you are not competing against anyone for your spot in a program. All you have to do is make sure you are eligible by looking over the program’s eligibility requirements. These requirements will always include class standing (based on credits, not year) and cumulative GPA. Sometimes they might require course prerequisites, language level, and language GPA, for example. 

While it is possible for degree-seeking international students to study abroad during your time at UC Santa Cruz, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) strongly recommends against studying abroad during your last quarter before graduating. To go overseas, you will need to work with both a Study Abroad Advisor and ISSS Advisor. Once you have chosen a program, it is essential to contact ISSS so you can speak with an ISSS Advisor about how studying abroad could affect your:

  • F-1 or J-1 status
  • Re-entry into the United States
  • Obtaining the proper documents and signatures
  • F-1 employment eligibility

Whether studying through a UCSC Faculty-Led Program, UCSC Exchange Program, UCEAP, Other UC Study Abroad Program, or through a Non-UC Study Abroad Program, please be sure to inform an ISSS advisor of the length of time you will be abroad and how your enrollment in UCSC credits my change. Depending on your situation, you may or may not be able to maintain F-1 status while you are abroad and away, so it’s important to meet with an ISSS advisor to fully understand all the implications of your study abroad program before you make your final decision.

Note: Studying on programs outside of the UC is possible but requires extra paperwork. Consult with an ISSS  for more information. 

A Word About Visas

As part of the planning process for study abroad, make sure you understand all entry requirements to your intended study abroad destination and for countries outside of the program that you wish to visit. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may be required to obtain a visa for the host country. In some cases, international students may be required to return to their home country to apply for the study abroad visa. Research what documents you will need to enter foreign countries as well as what you will need to re-enter the United States. Unfortunately, UCSC Study Abroad cannot advise on non-U.S. visas. We recommend contacting the nearest embassy or consulate and only looking at direct government websites (.gov). Study Abroad discourages using visa websites or companies that request payment as these can sometimes be scams, but if you insist on using one make sure to research it thoroughly.

Tips for a Successful Study Abroad Experience:

  • For re-entry to the United States after your Study Abroad experience has ended, make sure that you have a valid passport that will expire no earlier than 6 months into the future, a valid U.S. visa, and your most recent I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature. More information can be found on the ISSS Travel & Reentry webpage.
  • Keep your visa current and plan ahead. You will need a valid U.S. visa to come back to the U.S., so make sure that you have all the necessary updates before departure. If your F-1 or J-1 visa is going to expire while you are abroad, make arrangements to apply for another F-1 or J-1 student visa.
  • Start applications early. You want to make sure you leave plenty of time for your all visas to process. The sooner you apply, the better.
  • Make plans for all countries you will travel to and through. If you want to travel outside of your program, research ahead of time what visas (tourist, transit, etc.) you may need. 
  • Keep in communication with your UCSC ISSS Advisor. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Study Abroad or Away Doesn’t Have to be International:
Programs in the U.S.

The U.S. is a country rich in diversity. Did you know that there are also study abroad or away programs in the U.S. to choose from? Such programs include those designed for all UC Students during the academic year: UCDC, UC Sacramento,  UC Ecology and Natural Reserves Program, and the UC Intercampus Visitor Program. UCSC offers USA Exchanges at universities in the U.S. There are also UC Summer Away options offered in the U.S. And lastly, there are some Independent Programs in the U.S. as well, including Spanish Studies Abroad in Puerto Rico, IES Abroad Summer Internship in New York City, CIS Abroad in Hawaii, and CIEE Summer Global Internships in Boston,  San Francisco, and New York. You should definitely check them out! And, if you would like further convincing, feel free to read the article Don't Study Abroad, Study America

Study Away in the U.S. Program Type Options

UC Study Away in the U.S. During the Academic Year 

There are some study away programs in the U.S. that have been designed for all UC students and are offered during the academic year. Any UC student under any major can intern in Washington D.C. under the UCDC Program or in Sacramento under the UC Sacramento Program. All students can also look into the University of California Ecology and Natural Reserves Program where you can conduct independent research! Another really great option would be to take advantage of the opportunity to study at one of the other UC campuses for one term under the UC Intercampus Visitor Program!

While all UC students can apply for the above-mentioned programs, UCSC has some programs designed specifically for our university campus students that are offered during the academic year. UCSC students can apply to participate in a USA Exchange Program for a semester or a year. An exchange program is where students study away at an institution in which UCSC has a partnership agreement. Meaning, UCSC can send students to study at a partner university for a semester or year and the partner university can send their students to study at UCSC for a semester or year. The exchange is direct and reciprocal, meaning UCSC receives students from the other university in exchange for UCSC students going to their universities for a term. For USA exchange programs, you pay your regular UCSC tuition and fees, and pay your living expenses at the partner institution (which is often far less expensive than living expenses in Santa Cruz). 

UC Study Away During the Academic Year Program Options: 

UC Study Away in the U.S. During the Summer 

If you are interested in participating in a summer program, you can consider taking a look at all the UC Summer Away options offered in the U.S. through UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. It is important to know that these programs change yearly, so each summer will have different program offerings. That being said, it is best to start taking a look at these summer program options at the beginning of the academic year so that you have plenty of time to plan your academic summer away!

It is also important to know that because these are summer program options, your access to financial aid will be limited to what was leftover from the year prior. Consider the costs of the program and plan ahead for out of pocket expenses. Visit Budgeting for Study Abroad to download a fillable budget sheet. Also, be sure to apply for scholarships. See more about financial aid and scholarships below. 

 Other UC Summer Away in the U.S. Program Options 

Student Perspectives and Resources